Laboratoire d’Études du Rayonnement et de la Matière en Astrophysique et Atmosphères

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Interstellar Medium and Plasmas

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What processes drive the evolution of interstellar matter in the Milky Way and in other galaxies ? What roles do the turbulence, the magnetic field, the cosmic rays, and the radiation field play in this evolution ? Those fundamental questions for modern Astrophysics now appear at many spatial scales and for a great variety of environments : from the galactic scales where the diffuse gas collapse to form the precursors of new stars ; down to the scale of proto-planetary disks where the central star strongly interacts with the surrounding matter ; and even in the stars themselves where the transport mechanisms are still unknown. To study all these astronomical objects, the group « Interstellar Medium and Plasmas » of the LERMA combine theoretical works, numerical modeling, 3D simulations, and observations of interstellar environments at high spectral and angular resolutions.

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On the observational side, our group is specialized in the treatment and the analysis of the data obtained with the most advanced space and ground-based observatories. Our expertise is particularly strong in the infrared and sub-millimeter domains which reveal the emission of atoms, molecules and interstellar dust. We have therefore been deeply involved in the recent successes and findings of Herschel and Planck space observatories, which we now follow up by collecting data with the new generation of instruments (in particular, APEX, ALMA, and soon NOEMA).

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On the numerical side, the codes developed in our group are internationally renowned as state-of-the-art tools for the analysis of interstellar matter and the interpretation of observational data. Our expertise extends from the conception of 3D numerical simulations of magnetohydrodynamics, which we run using high-level computational capacities (e.g. PRACE, MesoPSL), to the development of advanced numerical models. The strength of those models, which we provide to the community through the ISM and jets platform, is to solve a great number of microphysical processes at play in the interstellar medium, with prescriptions based on the results of laboratory experiments and theoretical studies which are partly performed in our laboratory.

Select one of the following links to know more about our activities

1. Turbulence & magnetic field

2. Matter / photon interactions

3. Stellar plasmas and laboratory astrophysics

4. Prestellar cores

5. Protostars, debris & jets

6. Accretion & ejection in stars

Click here to access our publications

Séminaires à venir

Vendredi 21 septembre 2018, 14h00
Salle de l'atelier, Paris
Understanding the structure of molecular clouds: Multi-line wide-field imaging of Orion B
résumé :
The new generation of wide-bandwidth high-resolution receivers turns
almost any radio observation into a spectral survey. In the case of
wide-field imaging of the interstellar medium, such a wealth of data
provides new diagnostic tools, but also poses new challenges in terms of
data processing and analysis.

The ORION-B project aims at observing 5 square degrees of the Orion B
molecular cloud, or about half of the cloud's surface, over the entire
3mm band. The emission of tens of molecular tracers have been mapped,
including CO isotopologues, HCO+, CN, HNC, N2H+, methanol, SO, CN...
Machine learning techniques have been applied to these maps, in order to
segment the molecular cloud into typical regions based on their
molecular emission, and to idenfify the most meaningful correlations of
different molecular tracers with each other and with physical quantities
such as density or dust temperature.

The spatial coverage, together with the spatial and spectral resolution,
also allow to characterize statistically the kinematics and dynamics of
the gas. The amount of momentum in the compressive and solenoidal
(rotational) modes of turbulence are retrieved, showing that the cloud
is dominated by solenoidal motions, with the compressive modes being
concentrated in two star-forming regions - which is in line with the
overall very low star formation efficiency of the cloud, and highlights
the role of compressive forcing in the star formation process. The
filamentary network of the molecular cloud also proves to have
particluarly low densities, and is very stable against gravitational
collapse and fragmentation, which also points at a young evolutionary
stage of the filaments.
Vendredi 5 octobre 2018, 14h00
Salle de l'atelier, Paris
Astrochemistry in star forming regions : new modeling approaches
Emeric BRON
résumé :
Star-forming regions present rich infrared and millimeter spectra emitted by the gas exposed to the feedback of young stars. This emission is increasingly used to study the star formation cycle in other galaxies, but results from a complex interplay of physical and chemical processes : chemistry in the gas and on grain surfaces, (de)excitation processes of the atoms and molecules, heating and cooling balance,... Its understanding thus requires detailed astrochemical models that include the couplings between these processes. In this talk, I will present several examples where new modeling approaches of specific processes and their couplings proved crucial to solve persistent observational riddles : from the driving role of UV irradiation in the dynamics of photodissociation regions (PDR) to the efficient reformation of molecular hydrogen in these regions.
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